Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Winter Quirks

    I have a secret to share. It is an interesting quirk about my winter weirdness. Every winter I develop some random OCD issue. Something I am never really aware of until it has been going on for several months. Four years back it was taking my own bags to the grocery store. I would have a full on meltdown, tear inducing anxiety attack if I didn't have my own bags. That was a particularly difficult winter, by the way. One winter it was an aversion to water.
    This year it is nothing quite so dramatic. I have a shirt, an old shirt, one of my favorite cold weather race shirts. It has developed into somewhat of a security blanket it would seem. I sleep in it every night. I wear it most days that I am not at work. I am wearing it right now. I make sure to wash it when I am working out, so I can be distracted from the fact that I don't have The Shirt on. It is a winter wear Champion brand running shirt. Silky, not too snug but form fitting, has the little thumb holes on the extra long sleeves. It doesn't have tags, I make no secret that I cut the tags out of all my clothes, but this shirt never had them to begin with. I paid about $5 for it at Value Village 4 years ago or so, and have looked for another every since. I love this shirt. It is very often the base layer under whatever other shirt I decide to wear.  I don't wear it to work very often, but I put it on as soon as I get home. I pack it in my swim bag so I can slip into it after a swim. I don't wear it for workouts, but as soon as I am done I am snuggled back into the shirt. It is like a cocoon, or armor. It shields me from discomfort, anxiety, the cold. It is this winter's OCD focus. Not bad, compared to past winters.
    I make no secret that I am a creature of habit. Habits so strong that they border on compulsion. I pack the same thing for lunch nearly every day that I work, and have done so for years. The foods have changed over the years since my dietary restrictions and needs have changed as well. I eat a well rounded diet, but it tends to take the form of very specific foods. Every night I drink a cup of herbal tea. I have the same routine every morning and every night, almost to a tee. I always put on my left sock and left shoe first. Always. I put in my left earring first, and if I don't I can't manage to get the right one into the hole.
    I have learned to make habit work for me in some areas. Especially in fitness and nutrition. I workout largely because it is a deeply ingrained habit. I have worked out regularly in one form or another, nearly every day for the last 20 years. The older I get, the stronger my habits become. I think that if I were ever to develop dementia I would continue on with my habits because my body is so tied to them it doesn't need my brain very much.
    So, habit or obsession. Quirk or compulsion. Every winter the need is a bit stronger and deeper. The more I understand myself the more I can look at it with humor, and the less dramatic it all seems. For this winter I have my favorite shirt, like Linus with his blanket, that keeps me sheltered from the darkness of winter. I love my shirt.

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